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Vappu 2010

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This weekend was vappu-weekend, and this means that there are a looooot of people in the city and in a big park next to the sea. It is amazing how the city changes it’s face in those days. Nice memories came back – from last year, when Mareike visited me, when we organized the move to the new flat in Alberga and when we spent a really nice weekend here – or two years ago, when I went out with Rafael and when we partied quite extensively.

This year, Maria and Niels came to visit and we planned the whole weekend together. We started on Friday before they came with a nice party at Inni’s place – another friend of Annika. From there we went to the airport and picked Maria and Niels up – a bit late though as we missed the bus we were supposed to take. Straight from the airport, we went to “Lost & Found” to party the whole night. It was really funny and nice!

After the long night in the city, we slept as long and had a relaxing brunch, sitting at the table and talking a lot, before we went to the park in the late afternoon. Afterwards we saw, that it was a good decision leaving so late as the sun didn’t come out before we opened the 2nd bottle of sparkling-wine ;) When the sun finally broke through the clouds, the people in the park freaked out, screaming and shouting, as you can imagine looking at the photo under the text. It was so much fun! And so different from the “normal” Helsinki. After having wine, good cheese and bread in the park, we went through Helsinki and showed Niels the nicest parts of town, as it was his first visit. We ended the day in a good mexican restaurant and some beers in town. Today we brunched and enjoyed the whole morning, before they went back to Copenhagen in the early afternoon. Thanks for coming! It was really nice!

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Bedburg – communion after-party

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With one week delay we arrived on Friday evening in Düsseldorf to visit finally my family again. Even though it was just a bit more than 3 months that we were there the last time, it felt so much longer, due to all the stuff we have done in the meanwhile – I didn’t even know at that time, how it feels to wear a pair of ski-boots :) We started with a nice evening, having some good food and wine with my parents, Elke with her kids and Sabine. We all were pretty tired but happy to see each other again. Everybody was quite surprised, how Annika proceeded with her German. The next morning we woke up quite early, took our running shoes and ran the 10 plus a few extra sight-seeing kilometers to Sabine’s new house in Bergheim, in summer-like weather with warmth and singing birds in the morning. We discovered with Marvin and Julia how nice it is to be a kid again and we tried their wave-boards, climbed on trees and forgot the time playing the super-nintendo games against each other. On the way back, Sabine’s whole family joined us with their bikes and we ended the day with a nice barbecue and a photo session in the wonderful garden with all the different colors of the flowers. Now we are sitting in the plane back to Helsinki, being a bit sad, that the nice time is already over. It was so nice to see everybody again and we are looking so much forward to having more time in the summer, when the family will visit us in the summer-cottage in kokkola to our being-one-year-married party. One comment to the photos: Julia took a lot of them and proved herself as a really talented photographer!

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Funky elephant 2010

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This festival is somehow special, because of it’s music, it’s atmosphere and the fact, that it was the first real party-night, when I came to Helsinki 2 years ago. Last year I couldn’t go, because of my trip to Ecuador and this year we were supposed to be in Germany. But as the ash-cloud kept us on the ground, we had the possibility to be there.

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One band I have to mention is Dalindèo. It is a Finnish band, lead by Valtteri Pöyhönen, who describes their music as “cinematic jazz – Instruments as actors, melodies as events, harmonies as colours. Constantly in rhythmic motion, they create a drama for each piece”. The music was fantastic and each solo really impressive. Some impressions of the concert you can see in the pictures. Sometimes the band was joined by Bajka, a singer, poet, producer and songwriter with roots in India, South Africa and Portugal [1]. It was a wonderful experience to see them live on stage and if you are interested in this kind of music you should consider adding this CD to your collection! We did it straight after the concert.

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Dalindèo web-site

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Ash clouds and our trip to Germany

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Eyjafjallajökull [listen :) | see ] is “one of the smaller glaciers in Iceland”. But the volcano on top of it, changed our travel plans to Marvin’s communion quite a lot and made our bad travel-luck, after a broken train in Copenhagen and a British Airways strike in Great Britain, continuing. On Thursday around noon at work we heard about the eruptions of the volcano and it’s impact on the air-traffic. At that time, just Heathrow was really effected by it and we didn’t worry too much. Then in the afternoon, Annika had to work overtime to get interviews from people, who wanted to go to Vaasa and ask them about the fact, that Helsinki is the only open airport in Finland. It was coming closer, but on the other hand, all German airports were still remaining open and nothing officially announced, that Helsinki would be closed. This changed around midnight. Helsinki was closed until 3 pm the same day. OK. 3 pm. Our flight leaves at 6, and next news would be given out at 6:30 am. Let’s see. Germany still open. Maybe we are lucky. 6:30 am: Airport will be closed until Saturday 3pm – really? – damn – but the flight is not officially canceled yet. Still hope! Maybe the situation will change? Calling airberlin! 2 hours in the waiting line listening to the “airberlin-song” in a loop, which states in German: “no storm can stop us, our airberlin”. Irony! No luck, no body answers! But the code I produced in that time works – at least that! Flight cancelled no chance to get home. Disappointment, phone calls, making plans for a weekend in Helsinki.

But I had to go anyway to the airport, as I had a package with sports-shoes, which I ordered in Switzerland. I was somehow confused and totally stressed, because I had to hurry to get to the customs in time. I almost took the bus into the wrong direction, but a really nice finnish guy helped me out and brought me to the to the right bus-stop. When I arrived at the customs they told me that I would have to pay 30% taxes on the things I bought. The question I had was, why so much and was responded with screams and half-insults, as I have never seen before! But after another person removed the women from the desk and replaced her I could talk normally and resolved all the issues I had. Then I went to the airberlin desk at the airport and could change the tickets for the next weekend. Let’s see now, what will happen. The person who helped me out at the airberlin desk were fantastic and helped me a lot! After my experience before I have to say: Thanks! :) Now I am curious how the whole thing will go on. Somehow it’s nice to see how “one of the smaller glaciers in Iceland” can influence the whole traffic in Europe. I’m sad that we couldn’t see Marvin at a day, which is important for him, but the only thing we can do is leaning back, and looking forward to our trip – if nothing prevents it from happening.

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Winter vacations in Lapland

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The week before Easter, we took our winter-vacations and stayed with Annika’s mother and brother one week in the family’s cottage in Äkäslompo, in finnish Lapland. The plan was to forget about our everyday lives and spend the time with good reading, delicious food and especially a lot of winter-sports. And so we did. For me it was the first time being north of the arctic circle – exciting. When we arrived in the incredibly cosy cottage, the first thing we did was lighting the fire in the open fireplace and warmed ourselves up a bit. That way we rested after the long road trip and passed the first evening.

As we were all a bit tired from the long trip, and as the weather wasn’t soooo great – slightly under 0 and snowing – we decided to start slowly into the week, made the first shopping tour and got our cross-country skis prepared. The guy in the sports-shop was a bit annoyed about the status of the skis, which were untouched after the last waxing for a long time. After getting that done, and doing the snow-work in front of the cottage during the waiting time, nothing kept us from trying them out instantly on a first 10km round close to the village. It was the first time that I used these kinds of skis since several years. As I was the only one, who sweated like a pig, I figured that I hadn’t the most efficient style, one could have doing that sport :) But I learned more and more the technique and already the next day we were around 25 km in total on the skis. It was wonderful to be outside so much and in the nature. I *really* liked it.

The next three days we went downhill skiing. It was nice that Annika’s brother and mother joined us, so that we could enjoy a nice family sports-trip. The only “bad thing” was the weather. It was so foggy, that we couldn’t see on the top of the hill both sides of the slope. It was really adventureous and once we ended up for a short time being off-piste, as we took the wrong entrance into the slope. Another time the wind created huge piles of snow, which was really difficult to handle in combination with the fog. But the fog was most of the time around the top of the hill, so that it didn’t bother too much and it was always nice, when we came out of the clouds and could see the nice landscape. On Saturday we had nice skiing weather and it was so funny to see the environment, the slopes and to have the full view. It was such a difference to the foggy days. But when I got closer to the slope and could actually see how steep it is, I wished the fog back for a moment. ;) Between those downhill-days we went around the hill to Ylläs and back on a 32 km cross-country round. The forest, a bit away from streets and villages was so peaceful – amazing. My cross-country experience ended with an icy slope on Saturday morning, so that I fell some times pretty badly. But that’s life.

The week ended with a nice evening, where more relatives of Annika joined in and we spend some time drinking good champagne and french food! Sooo good! Back in Helsinki we can look back on an amazing week with good books, great food and wonderful winter-sports. Just as planned :)

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London

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The London-weekend was really nice – the city is beautiful, the spring is starting slowly and some friends waiting there. So in general all the requirements for a fabulous weekend are there. But even though everything was arranged perfectly, the result was a bit more complicated than expected.

It started with a short SMS from British Airways, about one week before we wanted to go, which said: “Unfortunately your flight from London to Helsinki on Sunday is canceled”. This is not the kind of message you are happy to get one week before your 2 1/2 days weekend-trip. We directly tried to contact BA over the telephone – unfortunately all the other x-thousend people, who got the message in the same moment, had the same idea, as the stewardesses were on strike from Sunday to Tuesday that same week, when we were supposed to fly back. After being not really successful on that way, we tried to rebook the flight online. Nice idea, but the only flight, which was offered, was on Tuesday, after the strike. As we both had to work that week this wasn’t an option. Finally we could cancel the BA flight and we found a flight with easyjet on Monday morning, so that I was able to work a whole workday in the afternoon. Puhh…that went somehow well!

But we didn’t have the luck on our side. During the week before we wanted to leave, a work-trip brought me to Berlin. I came home on Thursday night in a snowstorm, so that we needed two attempts to land safely in Helsinki. On the taxi-ride home I felt a bit weird in my stomach, but I thought, it was because of all the stress in Berlin and on the way back – but it wasn’t. I had a flue, threw up and had to stay home on Friday instead of going to work. I layed the whole day in bed, without being able to do anything, until our flight left around nine. We arrived close to midnight in London (London time) and Juanma awaited us at a train station in the center and brought us to our home for the weekend.

The Saturday we woke up relatively early, and as I felt much better, we started our London sight-seeing tour, visiting the tower bridge, St. Paul, Tate, some cosy small harbor, several parks, a market, Big Ben and the area around it, Buckingham palace and much more. It was a really nice day and Juanma showed and explained us a lot. It was wonderful. At night we joined then Mikes birthday party and found ourself in a japanese karaoke in the middle of London. It wasn’t like the usual places, where one person in the middle of a bar makes a fool of him- or herself in front of unknown people. Instead it was a small place in some basement under a restaurant, where one could rent a room for 6-10 people and where you could sing with your friends in a private atmosphere. Sounds strange, but it is actually a loooot of fun. We came home at around 5 after a really long, but fantastic day in London. Poor Juanma had to suffer, because we occupied his bed and he had to sleep on the sofa that and the following night.

Unfortunately on Sunday Annika had the same flu, I had on Friday, so that she had to stay home in the bed and couldn’t taste Juanma’s breakfast/lunch with pizza and a tortilla. In the afternoon Juanma took me and another friend to a market, where we had a coffee. Before we went home, we walked a little bit more through the city. Our plane left between 6 and 7 in the morning, so we had to start our journey at 3 and arrived in Helsinki at noon, tired but happy about a really nice Saturday in London. Even though not everything went perfectly, it was fantastic that Annika could meet Juanma, and that we had the chance to spend a really nice time together in such a wonderful city. Thanks again to Juanma, who supported us a lot, who made a really good job as a tourist guide and who showed us nice small places, which I hadn’t seen before, even though I was several times already there. Thanks to Mike as well, who introduced us into japanese karaoke!

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